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Asura's Wrath Review
Platform: Playstation 3, Xbox 360
Release Date: Out Now
ESRB: T for Teen
This review is based off the Playstation 3 version
At the beginning of Asura’s Wrath, my tutorial consisted of an intergalactic war between Demigods and their battalion of celestial space ships and an evil demon-spawn that literally erupts from the side of the planet Earth. I myself was swirling through the vast vacuum of space, dodging laser fire, explosions, and punching the ever loving mess out of anything in my way. And that was just the prelude.
Asura’s Wrath’s story centers around a warrior general amongst a race of demigods named Asura. Among them, he is ranked as one of eight of the highest of holy generals and is entrusted with the protection of not only the heavenly capital, but also the planet Earth from a demonic race of beasts known as Ghoma. After successfully fighting off the latest wave of attacks from the Ghoma, Asura is called into the emperor’s quarters, where to his terror he finds the old ruler lying dead in a pool of blood.
To make matters worse, he is framed for the murder, his wife is murdered, and their daughter, who is the civilization’s priestess thanks to her great divine powers, is kidnapped. In his attempt to rescue her, he is attacked by the true culprits of the coup d’etat – the other seven holy generals and is ruthlessly killed by their leader. As he falls off into death, Asura swears revenge on his former comrades and swears to rescue his daughter. And thus, his quest to quell his rage and revenge begins.
The story and art work in the game plays off just like an action anime, complete with each level being broken up into episodes and having a voice over tell of what is to come in a “next time on Dragon Ball Z” style of delivery. The character designs are an interesting mixture of old-school Buddhist culture and mythology and science fiction technology. Each demigod is shown as fleshed out characters each with their own personality. While some are more complex than others, they each develop in their own way.
Even the main villain of the game, Deus, comes off as less of a heartless villain and more of a tragic hero of sorts as you piece together his reasons for doing what he has done. But that doesn’t stop Asura from wanting to punch his face off. The best way to describe the gameplay is to take the elements of Dragon Ball Z, Devil May Cry, God of War, and then add twenty gallons of crazy on top of it.
The battle system is pretty straight forward. You have one button for basic attacks which you mash for a basic combo, and you can also hold it down to dash in and launch a locked-on target into the air to follow up with an air-combo. Another button allows you to fire off projectiles to hit the many flying types of enemies in the game. And lastly, you have a special heavy attack that hits everyone around you but requires a cool down period before using it again, so some strategy comes into play on timing the placement to get the most bang out of it.
The other elements that are unique to Asura’s Wrath are the gauge systems. As you fight, two gauges get built up: the Unlimited gauge and the Burst gauge. The Unlimited gauge allows you to use your special attacks repeatedly without cool down and it boosts your strength.
But the core of the gameplay is the Burst gauge. When the Burst gauge is filled up, it allows you to use a Burst move which essentially triggers the next events in the game: the final blow against bosses, moving on to another scene, or just doing something flashy. Each Burst maneuver is accompanied by a simple quick time event usually via button prompts or joystick movements. The button presses have a certain timing to them which if the player can hit it at the exact moment, they get bonus points which add to the final grade at the end of each stage.
While these elements make for a very strong cinematic delivery, fighting the same wave of enemies tends to become a punch by the numbers affair. The battle system is pretty bare for the most part so every fight pretty much becomes a race as to how fast you can build your burst gauge to trigger the next crazy cutscene/quick time event.
Another annoyance is that the camera can be a bit bothersome when you try to lock-on to one foe only to have another enemy nailing you from off camera. This becomes especially frustrating when trying to line up a shot to hit a flying enemy. Despite the doldrums of the standard battles, where Asura’s Wrath truly shines in the boss fights. Every boss battle in the game plays with the epicness of a final boss fight in any other game.
One of the first true boss battles in the game has you facing off against a giant planet-sized Buddha who attempts to kill you by smudging you out with his giant moon-sized finger. In another boss fight, you’re battling on the moon against a sword-wielding boss. Then half-way through the fight, the boss winds up stabbing you through the chest…and just continues extending his sword until it pops out the other side of the planet.
The beauty of the game is that each boss battle has at least three “Oh crap! I can’t believe that just happened!” moments. Another thing it did well is that it occasionally changed up the gameplay in an attempt to keep it fresh. At times, it goes from brawling to a Panzer Dragoon-esque shooter and then back to a brawler.
These switches are done quite well and I wished they had done more change-ups in the game. Aside from the main game, it has a large number of unlockable artwork, character bios, trailers, cutscenes, and gauge designs which give different perks (like greater defense or granting longer time periods while in Unlimited mode).
All in all, Asura’s Wrath is a fun brawler with beautiful artwork, set pieces, and great story delivery. Unfortunately there just isn’t all that much beyond its fists.
+ Epic Boss fights
+ Character and art design is impressive
+ Story and delivery is fun and anime-like
+ Lots of unlockable swag
- Fighting gets a bit repetitive
- Camera can be a bit of a jerk
- Not much to do afterwards
Overall Score: 7 (out of 10)
Asura’s Wrath is a definite must-play for any fan of action animes, crazy brawlers, or just good old fashioned gaming you don’t have to think too much about to enjoy.
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